Canadian Silver Maple Leaf

The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is one of the premier silver bullion coins of the planet today. With its superb production values and beautiful maple leaf emblem, evoking the majesty of Canada’s immense wilderness areas, its purity (99.99% pure silver, higher than any other nation’s bullion coins), and its eminent collectability, the Maple Leaf is an obvious investment choice for anyone interested in silver.

The coins are sold individually through various dealers authorized by the Royal Canadian Mint, as well as through the secondary market. They are also sold in tubes of 25 due to the immense demand for them, which allows interested parties to buy them in bulk as well.

The Royal Canadian Mint does not sell coins directly to the public most of the time, but there is a web store on their site which provides the names and addresses of authorized dealers in Canada, the United States, Austria, Denmark, Australia, the Czech Republic, England, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain.

Properties of the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf

Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins stand out from all other silver bullion coins currently struck in several ways, all of which are apparently intended to give the coins a comparative advantage over those of other governments. One way in which they differ is in their purity – Silver Maple Leaves are 99.99% pure silver, whereas the best coins offered by other governments are only 99.9% pure silver, which is an important consideration for many people purchasing coins for their bullion value.

Another way that they differ is in their face value, which is set at $5 Canadian for the 1 troy ounce coin, rather than usual $1, €1, or £1 denominations of silver coins. This is another feature that many coin buyers prefer.

Canadian Silver Maple Leaves have been issued in a number of different sizes, although the “default” size is a 1 troy ounce (31.1 gram) coin that is 1 ½ inches (38 mm) in diameter and 0.12 inches thick (2.87 mm). This is the coin most sought by collectors and silver purchasers of all kinds.

The most notable other sizes were produced in 1998 for the 10th anniversary of the coin’s issue – a monster 10 troy ounce (311.1 gram) coin, with a face value of $50 Canadian, a diameter of 2.6 inches (65 mm) and a thickness of 0.44 inch (11mm) — and in 2011 – a truly Brobdingnagian effort that weighs in at a full kilogram (2.2 pounds), has a face value of $250 Canadian, a 4 inch diameter (10.1 cm), and a unique design of three maple leaves attached to a twig on the reverse, rather than the usual single leaf.

Canadian Silver Maple Leaves come in many individual variations, but the unifying theme between them is the obverse, which always bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II. The monarch’s name appears above her head, while the legend “5 Dollars” and the year of striking appears below.

Interestingly, the portrait of the Queen shows her aging process, which allows you to judge the rough time period during which a specific coin was produced simply by noting the monarch’s appearance. From 1988 to 1989, the Queen is shown at age 39; from 1990 to 2004, she is shown as she appeared at 64; and from 2005 to the present, she is shown at age 79.

The reverse usually shows a realistic maple leaf, and is further set apart from other coins by bearing a bilingual legend. “Canada” arches over the top, while the bottom bears the legend “9999 Fine Silver 1 Oz. Argent Pur 9999”, incorporating both English and French. There are numerous variations, including Colored Silver Maple Leaves, Hologram Silver Maple Leaves, Olympic Maple Leaves, Privy Mark Maple Leaves, Anniversary Maple Leaves, Special Issues (including both an arctic fox and a lynx variant), a Wildlife series with a Timber Wolf and a Grizzly, and five miscellaneous Silver Maple Leaves featuring loons, lighthouses, timber wolves, and others.

History of the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf

Just two years after the United States government began their issue of the American Silver Eagle coins which are the main silver bullion coin struck by the U.S. Treasury, Canada began to strike their own silver bullion coins, the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf. First issued in 1988, the Maple Leaf continues to be struck to this day, and has a number of features that set it apart from practically every bullion coin issued by other governments in the modern world.

The maple leaf has been an unofficial Canadian symbol since the earliest days of European colonization. Poems celebrating it were penned, letters were written by prominent Canadians lauding it as a fitting representation of first New France (the early colonies under the French monarchy), and on various military insignia from the period of the Boer War onwards.

Yet despite its widespread popularity as an emblem for all things relating to the northern nation, it was not officially adopted for centuries, and had only been the national symbol for slightly more than two decades when it was first used on the new Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins. The maple leaf – a crimson, almost abstract design – was used on the Canadian flag in 1965, but the maple leaf used on the silver bullion coins that have become such popular collectibles is far more realistic.

The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the world’s youngest mints, yet its unique assortment of coins and dedication to the highest metallurgical quality has established it as a one of the foremost producers of silver and gold coins, including bullion coins, as well. It was founded in 1908 and struck its first silver dollar in 1935, with a fairly low 80% pure silver content compared to the Maple Leaf’s 99.99% purity.

The history of the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf can be said to have begun with the Gold Maple Leaf, its immediate forerunner and the basis both for its design and for its purity characteristics. The Gold Maple Leaf was created in 1979, three years after the opening of the Winnipeg plant of the Canadian Royal Mint, a facility that was meant to bring the coin striking process up to modern standards. The Gold Maple Leaf was extremely popular, so production of this coin continued.

The Silver Maple Leaf was first issued in 1988, mainly because the Gold version was so successful. In effect, the Silver Maple Leaf is just an argent incarnation of the very popular gold coin. One can only speculate over whether the Canadian government was also selling off its silver stocks once they were no longer considered a strategic metal, in order to fund military spending, as was the case with the United States government’s Silver Eagles, or whether the Canadians simply saw the success of the American program and decided to cash in on the market as well, with no particular goal beyond profit.

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